Food treasures in New York City

Chelsea Market: So Many Culinary Finds

Ninth avenue between 15th-16th streets

You would never know looking at it, that inside the large brick building on Ninth Avenue and 15th Street, is a culinary amusement park. The building began it’s life in the 1890’s as the National Biscuit Company complex, where everything from Saltines to Oreos were baked. But a half a century ago the company moved out. In the 1990’s, the investor Irwin B. Cohen organized a syndicate to buy the principal National Biscuit buildings. It was re-opened as The Chelsea Market; keeping the architectural feel of the original factory with a winding arcade of food stores, restaurants, and specialty shops. Today, if you visit, you’ll find tourists wandering alone or in groups taking photos; chefs and foodies buying specialty items; and neighborhood office workers eating lunch.

I often go to Chelsea Market on my way to or from the High Line, usually with an out-of-town visitor. But mostly, it’s to visit my favorite stores. They have everything I need to create a great meal. Here’s how:

lobster place

Start at The Lobster Place where you can choose fresh fish, salmon

shrimp, crabs, clam , sushi or, of course, lobsters.lobsters

Next, head to Manhattan Fruit Exchange to pick up ingredients for a salad and some vegetables for side dishes. The store not only offers a wide variety of produce but there is so much depth within each category.

So many chile peppers to spice up your dish

So many chile peppers to spice up your dish

Many more mushroom options than in your average supermarket

Many more mushroom options than in your average supermarket

To create an interesting marinade for your fish or vegetables, or a flavorful salad dressing, stop by The Filling Station. This unique store contains flavored dark and white balsamic vinegars like cinnamon pear, dark chocolate, or espresso. My favorite is a white balsamic lemongrass mint.vinegar bottle

The Filling Station also sells flavored extra virgin olive oils, like blood orange or chipotle, as well as different kinds of unrefined, natural flavored salts.

You can taste as many vinegars and oils as you like

So many vinegars and oils to taste

The best part? You can taste any of these before buying, and if you bring your bottle back for a refill, there’s a discount on your next purchase.

If you’re missing the right saute pan, need a vegetable peeler, or just enjoy, as I do, browsing through kitchen equipment, then stop into Bowery Kitchen Supplies. bowery kitchen

The store is a cornucopia of kitchen tools, pots, pans, serving dishes, knives and everything in between. If you’re planning on visiting on a Wednesday or Saturday, then bring along your knives. Margery Cohen, of Samurai Sharpening Service, has a table right outside of Bowery Kitchen, where she’s been sharpening knives since 1997.

Before you leave Chelsea Market you can pick up brownies, cupcakes or cookies for dessert at one of the specialty stores, as well as a bottle of wine. It’s a culinary experience not to be missed.

December 10, 2012 Posted by | Food, stores | , , | Leave a comment

DIY “NY Culinary Finds” Tour: Manhattan’s West Side

With summer here, being outdoors is very appealing. If it’s not too hot, a great way to enjoy the weather is to take yourself on a New York culinary tour. While there are several companies in NYC that, for a fee, will take you to various neighborhoods known for their cuisine, why not “do-it-yourself.” If you enjoy walking, you can do these all by foot. But if some of the distances between stops seem too great, then just hop on a bus and continue that way.

The Westside Culinary Tour

Start your walk with breakfast at Amy’s Bread (672 Ninth Avenue Between 46th & 47th Streets).

Amy's Bread on 46th and Ninth

Amy’s Bread on 46th and Ninth

Choose from a variety of caffeinated and non-caffeinated hot and cold beverages and enjoy it with some sweet pastry or savory breads I’m partial to Amy’s variety of breadsticks. Buy a few to have later in the day.

So many breadstick choices

So many breadstick choices

Then head down Ninth Avenue (on foot or by bus) until 30th Street and walk west to 10th Avenue until you see the entrance of the Highline.  Stroll south on the Highline until about 17th Street. Stop for an ice pop from People’s Pops which uses locally grown fruit to make their frozen desserts or have a Mexican ice cream at La Newyorkina. Now it’s time to leave the Highline (exit at 16th Street) and head indoors to Chelsea Market. There’s an entrance on 10th Avenue between 15th-16th Street.

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Chelsea Market is best enjoyed slowly so leave yourself enough time to eat, drink and shop. My favorite spots for snacking on location include: gelato from L’Arte del Gelato; vegan sushi from Beyond Sushi; or grilled panini from Lucy’s Whey. If I’m shopping to bring dinner home, I’ll pick up fruits and vegetables at Manhattan Fruit Exchange, fish from The Lobster Place; interesting oils and vinegars from The Filling Station; and pasta from Buon Italia. If you exit at the east end of the market, you’ll be on Ninth Avenue.

In my next post, I’ll describe a DIY “NY Culinary Finds” Tour of the Lower East Side.

June 24, 2013 Posted by | Food, restaurants, stores | | 4 Comments

By Bread Alone

crusty roll

Walnut raisin roll from Sullivan’s Bakery

Whether you prefer the softness of a sweet brioche or the crunchiness of a great baguette, there’s nothing like fresh bread. You probably have a place in your neighborhood where you like to buy your bread. Or if you’re really ambitious, you may bake your own.  There are two places that are worth venturing out of your way for.

Sullivan Street Bakery

Sullivan Street Bakery

The first is Sullivan Street Bakery  Headquartered in Hell’s Kitchen, with an outpost in Chelsea, Sullivan Street offers a range of Italian breads and rolls.

 "Truccio Doni  - a loaf from Sullivan Street with large pieces of green olive.

Truccio Doni – a loaf from Sullivan Street with large pieces of green olive.

You can also get bomboloni, an Italian doughnut;  a variety of panini; or owner Jim Lahey’s famous pizza. You can sit and savor some fresh bread in the shop or take some home with you.

Amy's Bread on 46th and Ninth

Amy’s Bread on 46th and Ninth

Not far away is Amy’s Bread, another bakery worth visiting. Like Sullivan’s, Amy’s has multiple locations and the breads are also sold at a variety of retailers.  I like the Hell’s Kitchen location, site of the first shop, because it feels most like a neighborhood bakery and cafe.

So many breadstick choices

So many bread twists choices

Amy’s Bread is committed to “baking wholesome, hand-crafted bread.” They make over 20 different doughs, then form each into a variety of shapes and sizes. Their signature bread is a Semolina with Golden Raisins and Fennel, Other favorites are French Baguettes, and Organic Miche. I loved their range of sweet and savory bread twist choices.

Baguettes at Fairway

Baguettes at Fairway

If you can’t make it to Sullivan Street or Amy’s Bread, then stop into a Fairway and pick up a fresh baguette. The baguettes are baked daily on location,  Often you can pick up one just out of the oven. It’s hard to resist eating half of it on your way home. And for $1.99, you can’t go wrong with this bread option.

January 28, 2013 Posted by | Food, stores | , , | 5 Comments